THE planned reunification of the oldest hunt in England has been dealt a blow after the two sides failed to reach an agreement about how the hunt should be run.

The failure to reunify the Bilsdale Hunt, which was formed in 1668 by the Duke of Buckinghamshire in North Yorkshire, has led to a proposal that could see the hunt instead amalgamating with the Hurworth Hunt, in Darlington.

The Bilsdale Hunt split up in 2004 following disagreements between members. The breakaway group formed the Bilsdale Farmers Hunt (BFH).

After concerned landowners wrote to both sides asking them to consider reunification last year, talks started about merging the two hunts.

However, at a recent meeting, the two sides were unable to come to a consensus about how the merged hunt would be run.

Nigel Clack, master of the Bilsdale Hunt, said: “I’m bitterly disappointed because we were healing the wounds that have been there for a long time.

“At a meeting with the BFH it came out that we each had very different ideas about how we should go ahead.

“We wanted to have one pack of hounds and one set of huntsmen, while the BFH thought they could carry on as they were, but we could not sustain two hunts.”

Richard Waind, master of the BFH, declined to comment on the failure to reunite.

However, the BFH have expressed concerns about the Bilsdale Hunt amalgamating with the Hurworth Hunt, which they fear would mean the end of the historic group.

Sarah Allott, a member of the BFH, said: “It is obvious to us that the Bilsdale Hunt never wanted to reunify with us, but always wanted to go off with the Hurworth Hunt.

“We don’t want to see it disappear – there is a bigger picture to all this.”

Mr Clack said: “I can see the positives of joining Hurworth, but I also know that people will be concerned about the loss of the history and heritage of the Bilsdale Hunt.”

The BFH have vowed to fight the move and have called a meeting to discuss ways to prevent the merger. The meeting will take place in Boltby Village Hall, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, on Tuesday, at 7.30pm.